Hello Kitty. Dressing up as characters from Manga cartoons. Fluorescent drinks with lumps of goo? There are some things so exotic and quintessentially Oriental that westerners just aren’t going to get it. But is bubble tea one of them?
“Vulgar, sugary cocktails of fruity milkshake plus tea… what’s not to like?”
The concept is straightforward, and, to unaccustomed eyes, straightforward barmy enough. Take balls of sticky, translucent tapioca, plonk into milky tea and add flavours, anything from fruit to chocolate, so long as you can think of an appropriate bright colour to identify it.
Two members of the Chowdown Showdown Getsaround crew already disliked these drinks. I generally love them. Vulgar, sugary cocktails of fruity milkshake plus tea plus fat straws with ideal dimensions for firing sticky blobs at your companions if you’re so inclined / bored of drinking (/eating?) them – what’s not to like?
I get the picture that they’re a bit odd, but they come in such varieties of flavours that, unless you’re inured to inoffensive lumps that just add fun (I don’t think they even take on the flavour of the liquid), how can you object?
My problem, though, is that this just wasn’t the best bubble tea I’ve had. It also wasn’t the best matcha I’ve had. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood, but rather than being vibrant and indulgent this was more grainy and dull. The lychee milk someone else had was more interestingly flavoured with a strong fruity punch.
I’ve been there before, I’ll probably be back. But I reckon there’s a better bubble tea to be found in London. Answers on a postcard, or in the comments below.
67/100 best London dishes